In Sketches: Myanmar’s Challenging Media Landscape
By The Irrawaddy 10 July 2017
Despite the abolishment of decades-long literary censorship in 2012, Myanmar has seen a reverse in the direction of media freedom, particularly since 2014. Here are a series of cartoons published by The Irrawaddy over the course of four years— from 2014 to 2017—reflecting the media milestones and hardships experienced in the country.
Justice With Strings Attached
In October 2014, freelance reporter Aung Kyaw Naing, also known as Par Gyi, was killed while in military custody. The Myanmar Army said the journalist was shot dead when he attempted to seize a soldier’s gun and escape detention. Despite his wife’s attempt to file charges against the military for the death and alleged torture of her husband, the case was dropped by the police and courts.
Press Freedom in Burma
Myanmar ended literary censorship in 2012. Four years on, in 2016 press freedom in the country is depicted as still in its infancy.
Freedom on the Brink
The Irrawaddy’s cartoonist responds to the terrorist attack on French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 that killed 17 people.
Enjoy Freedom of the Press
This 2014 cartoon demonstrates the control and lack of support for independent media in Myanmar.
No Freedom From 66(d)
There have nearly 70 cases filed under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law—which is used to prosecute “defamation” online—during the National League for Democracy’s government administration.
The year 2014 saw some backslidings in press freedom in Myanmar with authorities placing restrictions on some publications on not to publish “inappropriate news about the government.” Others were threatened that they would be “held responsible for inciting social unrest” with their coverage of violence in Rakhine State. Four journalists and the CEO of Unity Weekly newspaper were detained by the police force’s Special Branch after the newspaper reported the existence of an alleged chemical weapons factory in Pauk, Magwe Division. All are facing prison terms of up to 14 years for “violating state secret laws.”
Ministry of Information Keeps the Media in its Tentacles
Despite the booming private media outlets in the country, Myanmar’s Ministry of Information takes a lion’s share of control of everything related to the media industry.
Burma’s Press Reforms at the Bursting Point
A 2014 cartoon demonstrates the precariousness of press freedom under the quasi-civilian government led by former President U Thein Sein.
Backs to the Crisis
Under Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, the Myanmar Army arrested three journalists, including one from The Irrawaddy, on June 26, accusing them of holding connections with an outlawed ethnic armed group. At the time of publication, they remain in prison.